Here are some of the observing sites used by SJAA members and other amateur astronomers around the Bay Area. More information and other sites available on TAC’s Sites Page
Links to SJAA Sites and directions:
Enter Houge Park at the blue marker on the map.Coordinates: 37.2575,-121.9423
This is the site of our city star parties and the location of our monthly general meetings. Houge (rhymes with “Yogi”) Park is in San Jose, near Campbell and Los Gatos. This location is very convenient for city residents, and a good location for introducing people to amateur astronomy. Views of the constellations, brighter deep sky objects, the moon and planets are typical observing targets. Between the parking lot and tennis courts is a sidewalk where public star parties are held. The meeting hall is directly ahead (south) of the parking lot. There are restrooms on the other side of the the hall.
Henry Coe State Park is in Morgan Hill, go east on East Dunne Ave. for 12 miles. Eventually you’ll cross a cattle guard. An additional half mile brings you to a sign identifying the Park, and immediately afterward on the right is a large dirt overflow parking lot which is the observing site. The main park and campground are a half mile farther on. The park fee is $8 per vehicle, payable in the drop-box at the park entrance. You must visit the HQ and pay your fees. Note that a clip lock is used on the gate. The gate must be locked when you leave.
The SJAA has been working with the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority (sometimes called simply the OSA) to make one of their sites available to astronomers. The OSA’s Rancho Cañada del Oro (sometimes called RCDO, or Rancho) site is made available more and more with the dedicated work of SJAA members Chris Kelly and Dave Ittner. Both are also docents with the OSA, which really makes the partnership between the two organizations that much more cohesive. If you are interested in experiencing a fairly dark site that’s not too far from home, consider coming out to Rancho when it’s announced it will be open. Located just south of Calero County Park, between San Jose and Morgan Hill, Rancho gets surprisingly dark for being so close to an urban area. Subscribe to the SJAA Announcement mail list .
The SJAA has been granted use of Mendoza Ranch from the Santa Clara County Parks on the new moon Saturdays. SJAA members Ed Wong and Dave Ittner are the SJAA’s permit holders for the site. If you are interested in experiencing a semi dark site that’s not too far from home, consider coming out to Mendoza Ranch when it’s announced it will be open. Located just west of Coyote Lake in Gilroy. Mendoza Ranch has seen SQM meter readings on 21.2 which is quite dark for site located near an urban city. GPS coordinates for Mendoza Ranch are: 37 04 14.20 n 121 31 20.90 w
Fremont Peak State Park is south of the village of San Juan Bautista, about a 1 hour drive from San Jose.
There are several areas within the park used by astronomers.The areas near the ranger house (Observatory and Ranger row on the are managed under contract to the state by the Fremont Peak Observatory Association. Contact FPOA for access if you want to set up a scope. FPOA runs a summer program at this location using their 30″ telescope. For more information contact FPOA.
The Coutler and SW Lot areas are managed directly by the park. For latest access information see TAC Sites
This is the loation of the annual Golden State Star Party, near Adin, California. Great dark skies and plenty of amenities for all. For more information see http://www.goldenstatestarparty.org
The annual CalStar dark sky party is at Lake San Antonio in southern Monterey County. For more information see CalStar and is approximately 2.5 hours south of San Jose.
Here is some information about visiting at other times. See the CalStar site for maps and directions.
One needn’t attend the club function to do observing. Be aware, though, that locked gates and closing times apply at many sites. Nighttime access may only be available only with prior arrangement or notice. Check the TAC sites page for the latest information on other locations.